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Updated NASCAR schedule 2020: Everything to know about Cup Series races as season restarts

Sporting News — (Tadd Haislop)

Entering the season, we knew the 2020 NASCAR schedule would feature significant changes in terms of which tracks would host races on which dates. Yet nobody could have predicted the amount of change the 2020 NASCAR schedule is actually enduring.

Several NASCAR Cup Series races remain postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic that shut down live sports in March. None are canceled, as NASCAR still hopes to have a complete slate of 36 races in 2020. Four Cup races were completed before the outbreak reached the United States, and NASCAR became the first American sports league to resume its season — albeit without fans in attendance — starting with a previously unscheduled race at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, May 17.

For now, though, NASCAR's 2020 schedule beyond June 21 remains unclear.

MORE: How NASCAR's starting lineups work without qualifying

In its effort to squeeze a 36-race schedule into a condensed time frame before the start of what the organization hopes will be a normal playoff race schedule, NASCAR already has scheduled nine Cup races that will play out over the span of a little more than a month.

The revised NASCAR schedule started with races in a relatively close proximity to the Charlotte, N.C., area, where the majority of race teams are located. That eliminated most of the travel-related logistics issues associated with running multiple races in one week.

With more schedule changes on the way, below is what we know about NASCAR's plan and the viability of Cup Series races on the schedule moving forward. (Information on state-by-state gathering restrictions is courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.)

NASCAR schedule 2020

NASCAR on May 14 released more of its revised Cup Series schedule. For now, with remaining doubt about how NASCAR can construct its schedule beyond June given differing restrictions on gatherings of people from state to state, the short-term schedule includes only a handful of tracks.

DateTrackSeriesDistanceStage lengths (laps)TV channelStart time
Sun., May 17DarlingtonCup400.2 miles90-95-108FOX3:30 p.m. ET
Wed., May 20DarlingtonCup311.4 miles60-65-103FS17:30 p.m. ET
Sun., May 24CharlotteCup600 miles100-100-100-100FOX6 p.m. ET
Wed., May 27CharlotteCup312 miles55-60-93FS18 p.m. ET
Sun, May 31BristolCup266 milesTBDFS13:30 p.m. ET
Sun, June 7AtlantaCup500 milesTBDFOX3 p.m. ET
Wed, June 10MartinsvilleCup263 milesTBDFS17 p.m. ET
Sun, June 14Homestead-MiamiCup400 milesTBDFOX3:30 p.m. ET
Sun, June 21TalladegaCup500 milesTBDFOX3 p.m. ET

Of the nine races on NASCAR's modified schedule, only one (the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24) was part of the original plan for 2020. The Darlington race on May 17 ran instead of the the Chicagoland race that was originally scheduled for June 21. The Darlington race on May 20 ran instead of the postponed Richmond race that was originally scheduled for April 19. The Charlotte race on May 27 will run instead of the Sonoma race that was originally scheduled for June 14.

The Cup Series races still postponed include events at Texas, Dover, Kansas and Michigan. NASCAR's next challenge will be finding dates (and, potentially, locations) for those races while it tries to sort out the rest of the 2020 schedule.

The following are the dates and races on NASCAR's original 2020 schedule that have yet to be addressed.

June 27-28: Pocono

  • Start times: 3 p.m. ET (Saturday) | 3:30 p.m. ET (Sunday)
  • TV channel: NBCSN
  • Radio: MRN

The fact that a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader at Pocono was on the original Cup Series schedule for 2020 gives those races good chances to stick. NASCAR could justify sending teams on a two-day trip to hold a couple races as planned.

According to Pocono Raceway, the schedule for its NASCAR events this summer remains unchanged.

From the track's site: "The Pocono Raceway staff is currently working remotely under the Pennsylvania Governor’s current stay-at-home order through June 4, in preparation of our summer events. If our 2020 events were to change or be updated, it would come at the direction of NASCAR and our state officials."

July 5: Indianapolis

  • Start time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBC
  • Radio: IMS Radio

The Brickyard 400 appears safe on the Cup Series schedule, in part because it now will be part of a historic, coronavirus-prompted doubleheader with an IndyCar race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway the day prior. IMS also could be the first venue to open to fans since the pandemic shut down live sports.

Indiana governor Eric Holcomb recently announced a five-phase reopening plan for the state that, if things progress as planned, would allow the public's return to sports venues July 4.

July 11: Kentucky

  • Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBCSN
  • Radio: PRN

Some restrictions in Kentucky have been lifted, but mass gatherings remain prohibited, so that likely will need to change in order for Kentucky Speedway to host a Cup Series race in July. For what it's worth, the state does allow smaller gatherings with social distancing.

Owned by Speedway Motorsports, Kentucky Speedway was one of the tracks impacted when SMI laid off employees last month amid the pandemic.

July 19: New Hampshire

  • Start time: 3 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBCSN
  • Radio: PRN

The state of New Hampshire currently has a nine-person limit on gatherings, which obviously will need to change in order for New Hampshire Motor Speedway to host a NASCAR race this summer. New Hampshire is another track that was impacted by SMI's layoffs last month.

When New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu addressed racing at New Hampshire Motor Speedway during a press conference in late April, he said it was "too early to make any sort of definitive decision."

Aug. 9: Michigan

  • Start time: 3 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBCSN
  • Radio: MRN

The June race at Michigan was postponed, so NASCAR could look to this date on the schedule for a possible doubleheader. That will depend on the availability of the track given local restrictions.

Public and private gatherings in Michigan remain prohibited, with religious exemptions.

Aug. 16: Watkins Glen

  • Start time: 3 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBCSN
  • Radio: MRN

Though the state of New York is still prohibiting nonessential gatherings, Watkins Glen International president Michael Printup is confident his track's date will stick on the NASCAR schedule.

"We're ready," Printup said last week. "I always say we're ready, but we're really ready this time because we've had a little diversion here."

Aug. 23: Dover

  • Start time: 3 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBCSN
  • Radio: MRN

Dover's spring race remains postponed, so there has been speculation that NASCAR might try to squeeze in a Pocono-like Cup Series doubleheader at the track in August.

That's assuming Dover will be allowed to host one race, let alone two. The state of Delaware currently has a 10-person limit on gatherings.

Aug. 29: Daytona

  • Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV channel: NBC
  • Radio: MRN

The state of Florida has no restrictions on gatherings, just a suggestion that people should avoid congregating in places that don't allow for social distancing. Which means Daytona International Speedway should have no trouble hosting the Coke Zero 400.

NASCAR playoff schedule 2020

NASCAR reportedly is hoping to keep its playoff schedule intact with its original dates and tracks. So if NASCAR wants to run a complete, 36-race schedule, it will need to squeeze the currently postponed races into some midweek slots or doubleheaders before September.

Below is the original Cup Series playoff race schedule NASCAR hopes to preserve.

DateRaceTrackStart timeTV channelRadio
Sept. 6Southern 500Darlington Raceway6 p.m. ETNBCSNMRN
Sept. 12 (Sat.)Federated Auto Parts 400Richmond Raceway7:30 p.m. ETNBCSNMRN
Sept. 19 (Sat.)Bass Pro Shops NRA Night RaceBristol Motor Speedway7:30 p.m. ETNBCSNPRN
Sept. 27South Point 400Las Vegas Motor Speedway7 p.m. ETNBCSNPRN
Oct. 4Alabama 500Talladega Superspeedway2 p.m. ETNBCMRN
Oct. 11Bank of America ROVAL 400Charlotte Motor Speedway2:30 p.m. ETNBCPRN
Oct. 18Hollywood Casino 400Kansas Speedway2:30 p.m. ETNBCMRN
Oct. 25Texas 500Texas Motor Speedway3 p.m. ETNBCSNPRN
Nov. 1NASCAR Cup Series Fall Race at MartinsvilleMartinsville Speedway2 p.m. ETNBCMRN
Nov. 8NASCAR Cup Series ChampionshipPhoenix Raceway3 p.m. ETNBCMRN